National League Championship Series Preview
The 2018 Major League Baseball Postseason has now reached the National League Championship Series (NLCS) and the final two teams are the Milwaukee Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Brewers will host Game 1 and then shift to Los Angeles for Game 3.
Let’s start out by talking about the defending National League Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. They are now in their third consecutive NLCS. The Dodgers, on paper, have a star-studded lineup, but in reality, they haven’t fully lived up to their expectations. After making some strong acquisitions at this year’s trade deadline, including All-Stars Manny Machado and Brian Dozier, they were hoping to do much better than having to play a 163rd game in order to determine the National League West Champion.
They also finished with 12 fewer wins this year than last year with this improved lineup. Although they dominated the young Atlanta Braves in the division series, they will have to continue that momentum rather than go back to playing streaky baseball. They have a good chance at staying hot against a relatively-weak Milwaukee Brewers starting rotation.
The key here is for Clayton Kershaw to put his past postseason stats behind him. Kershaw owns a career postseason ERA of 4.08, which is far worse than what he is capable of. He has gotten off to a great start this year and his last start was a gem. He pitched eight scoreless innings against the Braves in his last start and looks to keep that momentum going in his Game 1 start in Milwaukee. If he can pitch like he did through the season, the Dodgers will have a real shot at winning.
As for the offense, they need to take advantage of the Brewers’ starting pitching problems. The Dodgers combined batting average in the playoffs so far is .210, which is way behind the Brewers’ .272. If their stars can perform like they know how, the Dodgers have a good chance at reaching their second straight World Series.
On the other side of the matchup, the Milwaukee Brewers are enjoying a great postseason ride in their first appearance since 2011. The Brewers also have a strong offensive lineup. After making some great offseason moves by signing outfielder Lorenzo Cain and acquiring outfielder Christian Yelich from the Marlins, along with some mid-year acquisitions such as Mike Moustakas, Jonathan Schoop and Curtis Granderson, the Brewers have put together an impressive year. They also had some surprising offensive outbreaks this season from players like Jesus Aguilar and Travis Shaw that have helped make them a true contender.
This offense has the potential to take Milwaukee all the way, but their starting pitching staff might be too weak for the Dodgers’ high-powered offense. Although their starting pitching was able to hold the Colorado Rockies scoreless in the division series, Colorado’s offense does not compare with that of Los Angeles. Their bullpen might see a much bigger workload going forward, which could wear them out. Their weapon is Yelich, who has put together a solid MVP campaign, and has the potential, along with World Series veterans Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Curtis Granderson, to carry this team to their first fall classic appearance since 1982.
Game 1 will be at Miller Park in Milwaukee on Friday, Oct. 12, at 8:09 p.m. Clayton Kershaw will be on the mound for the Dodgers taking on Gio Gonzalez of the Brewers.
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